Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Sunshine Act

Each year, 400,000 qualified students don't attend a four-year college because they can't afford it. Those who do go to college are borrowing more than ever to finance their education.

The current investigations of the student loan industry have made it clear that private lenders often don’t serve the best interest of students. Through a variety of corrupt practices, student loan companies gain an unfair advantage in marketing their loans to students and then charge interest rates of up to 19 percent.

To end these practices, Senators Dick Durbin and Kennedy have introduced the Student Loan Sunshine Act, which calls for full disclosure of special arrangements made between lenders and colleges and universities and prohibits lenders from offering lavish gifts to college officials in exchange for preferred status.

Students and their families struggle to pay for college and private lenders rake in exorbitant profits. Student loans have become the second most profitable business for the nation’s banks, after credit cards.

As a result of its aggressive marketing practices and shady business arrangements with colleges and universities, the stock price of the largest student loan company, Sallie Mae, has soared from $3 a share to more than $40. Just last week, JP Morgan and Bank of America announced plans to buy Sallie Mae for $25 billion, sending its stock even higher.

Education shouldn’t be about lining the pockets of banks and loan companies. It should be about giving every student the chance to have a better future.

Along with the Sunshine Act, Senators Durbin and Kennedy have introduced several other proposals to help fix the student loan system, including the Student Debt Relief Act and Student Aid Reward Act. These bills will reduce interest rates on student loans, cap student loan payments at 15% of income, and forgive loans for those who take public service jobs.

In the coming weeks, the Senate will act on these proposals, and Congress will have the chance to tell the nation what its priorities really are.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Compassionate Plea

Members of Congress it’s time to put cynical politics aside and follow your conscience. Vietnam should have taught us that the only think worst than young Americans dying in vain is that they continue to die in vain.

Bush will soon veto the US Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, thereby cutting off funding for the troops. Since, Bush refuses to accept Congress’ conditions for continuing the occupation, I'm asking you to stand firm and not write another blank check for the endless war in Iraq. When Bush vetoes funding for the troops, he’s the only one responsible for blocking the resources they need.

Please, publicly announce your support for the legislation proposed by Senators Feingold and Reid that will require Bush to begin safely redeploying our troops out of Iraq within 120 days.

Its unfortunate that many in Congress refuse to recognize that there is no strategy for victory, nor realistic way for our overburdened military to occupy and rebuild the entire nation of Iraq. The nation-building opportunity we had immediately after the invasion has now been squandered, and our troops are now caught in the middle of a civil war.

The prolonged presence of American soldiers in Iraq will continue until Congress calls for the immediate withdrawal of our troops. My question to members of Congress is: How do you ask a man to be the last to die in Iraq for an avarice, calculated, imperialistic plan to maintain control of the world’s second largest oil reserve?

Therefore, I ask that you get behind the Feingold-Reid proposal to begin safely redeploying our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. I look forward to hearing your response to my letter.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Next Step

Bush will soon veto the US Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act. The next step must be legislation proposed by Senators Feingold and Reid.

Congress has the power to end military engagements, and there is little doubt that decisive action from the Congress will be needed to end U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq.  Despite the results of the 2006 election, Bush decided to escalate the war.  When asked whether he would persist in this policy despite congressional opposition, Bush replied: “Frankly, that’s not their responsibility.”

In America, the people are sovereign, not the president and it’s Congress’ responsibility to challenge an administration that persists in a war that 60 percent of it’s citizens oppose. Congress must recognize that very time they vote to fund the war in Iraq, they’re reauthorizing the war.

Senators Feingold and Reid have proposed legislation that will prohibit the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after enactment. By prohibiting funds after a specific deadline, Congress can force the Bush regime to bring our forces out of Iraq and out of harm’s way.

This legislation will allow Bush adequate time to redeploy our troops safely from Iraq, and it makes specific exceptions for a limited number of U.S. troops who must remain in Iraq to conduct targeted counter-terrorism and training missions and protect U.S. personnel. It will not hurt our troops in any way. It will simply prevent Bush from continuing to deploy them to Iraq. By passing this bill, we can finally focus on repairing our military and countering the full range of threats that we face around the world.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has made clear, this legislation is fully consistent with the Constitution of the United States. Since, Bush is adamant about pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its constitutional power to stop him. If Congress doesn’t stop this war, it’s not because it doesn’t have the power. It’s because it doesn’t have the will.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Corruption Tax

The median debt for each graduating student in this country is $19,300. Adjusted for inflation, the debt levels for graduating students have risen 58 percent over the past decade.

California Democratic Congressman George Miller is the Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee is one of the chief critics of what has been transpiring, in the student loan business.

According to Rep. Miller the cost of college has outstripped the resources of the middle class families, who the hopes and aspirations for their children. Consequently, they're willing to go into debt, but they're not willing to pay for corrupt activities in the very program that they were led to believe by the universities was to their advantage.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings will testify before the House Education Committee on May 10th. The Education Department has formed a task force to look into the conflicts between lenders and universities. Critics say the department's oversight of the industry has been so weak and the ranks of the Education Department so tied to the industry that a task force is simply too little and too late.

An investigation by New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has resulted in a dozen settlements so far. Ninety percent of students choose their school's preferred lender. Cuomo found cases where student loan companies bought their way onto the list of preferrer lenders, thereby adding to the cost of the loan.

As a result of Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation, it has come to light, that our federal government may have been an enabler of many of these corrupt practices. As Cuomo’s staff press their investigations into the activities of student loan lenders, people on the university campuses and people within the Education Department, it has discovered a triangle of corruption in the number of instances.

The federal government puts forward an extraordinary amount of money to subsidize private lenders in this student loan program. Corrupt practices are putting taxpayer money at risk, as well as creating enormous cost for students and their families.

Families struggling with the cost of college are also being forced to pay a corruption tax. The cost of college has been driven up because of corrupt relationships between lending officers, universities, lending agencies, banks and various elements of the student lending program.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Under Oath

After claiming that the White House would give Congress "unprecedented" access to information regarding the recent dismissal of U.S. Attorneys, Bush insists that he would not allow Senior Advisor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to testify under oath and on the record about the dismissal of the U.S. Attorneys. There is extensive precedent for officials in these positions to appear before Congress.

During the Clinton administration, congressional Republicans routinely insisted that White House officials appear before Congress. During the Clinton administration, a series of White House Counsels testified to congressional committees publicly and under oath:

In 1994, White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum testified before the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs regarding the "Whitewater" matter and in 1996, he was deposed under oath on two separate days by the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as part of the White Travel Office investigation. Also, in 1994, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler testified before the House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs regarding the "Whitewater" matter. Later that same year, White House Counsel Jack Quinn was deposed under oath by the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as part of an investigation into campaign finance activities.

White House Counsel Charles Ruff, testified in 1997, before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as part of an investigation into campaign finance activities. Mr. Ruff testified again before the Committee in 2000 as part of an investigation into the White House e-mail system.

In 2000, White House Counsel Beth Nolan testified before the House Committee on Government Reform as part of an investigation into the White House e-mail system, and again Ms. Nolan again before the Committee in 2001 as part of an investigation into President Clinton's pardon decisions.

Numerous White House Chiefs of Staff also have provided Congress with sworn testimony on the record:

In 1997, White House Chief of Staff Thomas F. McLarty was deposed by the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as part of an investigation into campaign finance activities.

In 1998, White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles was deposed by the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight as part of an investigation into the use of the President's holiday card list.

In 2001, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta testified before the House Committee on Government Reform as part of an investigation into President Clinton's pardon decisions.

Bush is also mistaken in his contention that Congress has not received communications between White House aides. In fact, there is extensive precedent for providing these communications to Congress when they are pertinent to an investigation.

For example: The Clinton White House provided the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight with thousands of pages of White House e-mails, including e-mails between the Vice President and his staff, during the Committee's investigation into the White House e-mail system.

The Clinton White House provided the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee with notes taken by White House counsel reflecting attorney-client communications, during the Committee's investigation into campaign finance activities. The Clinton White House also provided the Committee a memo containing legal advice from the Vice President's counsel to the Vice President.

What does Bush fear?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

“This War is Lost”

Recently, Secretary of Defense Gates stated: “The debate in Congress has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited. The strong feeling expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably has had a positive impact in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this war is lost. The statement is consistent with public opinion, which believes this war needs to be ended as quickly as possible.

Sixty percent of Americans say they side with Democrats in Congress. Thirty-seven percent of Americans say if Bush vetoes the Iraq funding bill, Congress should pass another bill without a timetable, and the same 37 percent want to keep forces in Iraq as long as they’re need. Therefore, Democrats speak for the more than 60 percent of Americans who disagree with the stay the course mentality.

In 2005, retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, who used to head the National Security Agency said the only way to stabilize the Middle East is to leave Iraq. Odom wrote that if Bush wants to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East, the only way to achieve that goal is for the US armed forces to get out of Iraq now.

Odom, is a highly respected military analysts and a prominent figure at the conservative Hudson Institute in Washington. He insists that Iraq is the worst place to fight a battle for regional stability and that the invasion of Iraq didn’t serve our interests. It turns out that Iran and al Qaeda benefited the most, and that continues to be true every day US forces remain there.

General Odom was right, it’s the greatest strategic blunder in American history. History teaches us that if we understand ourselves and true to our own national values, the prerequisites for cultural understanding are minimized. This war and the way in which we moved into Iraq are in violation of our national values.

The military situation has deteriorated to the point it’s undeniable, that this thing is not going to be won in military terms. We are not going to shoot our way into making peace between warring religious factions that have been going at it for half a millennium.

General Odom was not alone in his criticism of the invasion of Iraq. For the first time in history, numerous generals challenged the competence of the Secretary of Defense and Commander-in-Chief.

The Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, when President Bush was elected, accurately informed Congress that the occupation of Iraq would require something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers. Shinseki's estimate was publicly dismissed by Pentagon officials. He had the courage to challenge Rumfeld’s downsizing plans, which would have made a big difference as we began reconstruction. Rumsfeld retaliated by naming General Shinseki's successor more than a year before his scheduled retirement, effectively undercutting his authority. The rest of the senior brass got the message, and have been reluctant to complained since.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark predicted that the unilateral invasion of Iraq would supercharge recruiting for Al Qaeda.

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold a former director of operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff said: “My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions or bury the results.”

Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni established his impeccable credentials during nearly forty years of military service. After retirement, he served as Colin Powell's special envoy to the Middle East, before disagreements over the Iraq war and its probable aftermath caused him to resign. In “Battle Ready”; a segment entitled “The Obligation to Speak the Truth”, Zinni said: “In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption. False rationales presented as justification; a flawed strategy; lack of planning; the unnecessary alienation of our allies; the underestimation of the task; the unnecessary distraction from real threats, and the unbearable strain dumped on our overstretched military, all of these caused me to speak out.”

For speaking out Zinni was called a traitor and a turncoat by Pentagon officials. Zinni strongly disagrees with the mentality which says: “As long as guys are dying out there, it is morally reprehensible to criticize the flawed policies and tactics that put them into the predicaments.”

On October 10 2002, Zinni a former chief of U.S. Central Command repeated points he'd made during the run-up to war: “If we think there is a fast solution to changing the governance of Iraq, then we don't understand history, the nature of the country, the divisions or the underneath suppressed passions that could rise up.” It was Zinni who predicted that the Iraqi Army and security forces might melt away after the state apparatus self-destructed, leading to chaos.

Recently Zinni said: “Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission. In my case, I was retired by the time this started, but I took issue with the faulty planning, the overoptimistic assumptions, trusting the exiles, bad decisions on the ground, inability to secure the borders; all sorts of mistakes that should not have happened, that good, common sense military judgment should not have let happen. You have one of two choices: either you speak out or you leave. If you decide to leave after you're heard and your advice not accepted, you're just going to be replaced. Somebody else is going to come in.”

Lt. Gen. Newbold and Gen. Zinni had seen the lack of planning beforehand but, Maj. Generals; Paul Eaton and John Batiste experienced the effects of the bad decisions right on the ground.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton commanded the training of Iraqi security forces until 2004. He has written that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. Eaton points out that Rumsfeld's failure to build coalitions with our traditional allies, by dismissively refering to them as "old Europe". “Thus, he imposed far greater demands and risks on our military than necessary. Furthermore, he alienated our own military, by ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.” Eaton calls for Mr. Rumsfeld to step down, because: “He has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq.”

Since, Rumsfeld has presided over the Pentagon, there is a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge his decisions. Rumsfeld rejected the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and sent in just enough troops to complete the ground war against the uniformed Iraqis.

Retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste led the First Infantry Division in Iraq said: “When decisions are made without taking into account sound military recommendations, sound military decision-making, sound planning, then we're bound to make mistakes.” Batiste supports civilian control of the military, but says: “We went to war with a flawed plan that didn't account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime. We also served under a Secretary of Defense who didn't understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant, who didn't build a strong team.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack commanded the 82nd Airborne in Iraq stated: “I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him.” Swannack criticised Rumsfeld's management style: “He has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there; he has culpability associated with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and rather than admitting these mistakes, he continually justifies them to the press.” Swannack, who served more than 30 years in the Army and also criticized the way the war was being run before he retired. In May 2004, while still on active duty, Swannack told the Washington Post that he thought the United States was losing strategically in Iraq.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs the former director of Objective Force Task Force claimed: "They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda. I think that's a mistake, and that's why I think he should resign."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pay Raises

Do members of Congress care more about corporations and their own salaries than they do people living in poverty? Please, consider sending the following e-mail to your representatives in Congress.

Class warfare against the middle class and poor became rampant, after Republicans won control of Congress and corporate lobbyist began making large contributions to their campaign coffers.

Raising the minimum wage has widespread support in Congress, but Senate Republicans are insisting on more breaks for business in exchange for their support, which has been a deal breaker.

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 per hour or $10,700 a year for a full-time worker, for over nine years. During that time, Congress gave itself annual pay raises totaling almost $35,000, while the minimum wage stayed the same. Now that Democrats control of Congress, their top priority has been to restore an economic promise to America by raising the federal minimum wage.

It's time to restore the faith that America works for all our people, not just the rich and powerful. It’s time for Congress to reject this economic injustice that divides our people, and weakens our country. It’s time for Congress to be a strong voice for the powerless and restore hope for working families.

To insure faith in America and that economic injustice will not occur again, all pay raises for members of Congress should require a corresponding percentage increase in the minimum wage. For example a pay raise of $35,000 for a member of Congress, should at least require a $3.50 raise in the minimum wage over the same nine year period.

WARNING: Due to Presidential Executive Orders, the National Security Agency may have read this e-mail without warning, warrant or notice. The agency may do this without any judicial or legislative oversight.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Inequality

Many people think it is morally bad for there to be wide disparities in the well being of a society. We should also recognize that inequality is actually harmful to a society. There is a lot of evidence, based on cross-national comparisons of inequality and economic growth, that more unequal societies have lower rates of economic growth. The divisiveness that comes out of large disparities in income and wealth, is actually reflected in poorer economic performance of a country.

In countries, that are more equal, educational achievement and benefits are more equally distributed throughout the country. In America, there are huge disparities in resources going to education, which is the reason quality of schooling and schooling performance are unequal. If you have a society with large concentrations of poor families, average school achievement is usually a lot lower than where you have a much more homogenous middle class population, as you find in most Western European countries. Consequently, we end up with a labor force that is less well educated on average than in a country like the Netherlands or Germany. High levels of inequality results in less human capital being developed in that country, which ultimately affects economic performance.

One reason, America has such high levels of inequality, compared to other advanced industrial countries, is because of our tax system. We have much lower taxes and a less progressive tax system than almost every Western European country. Therefore, the rich in our country manage to retain a much higher share of their income than they do in other countries, which enables them to accumulate a much higher amount of wealth than the rich in other countries.

A separate tax on wealth actually exists in a dozen European countries. This has helped to lessen inequality in European countries. If you think about taxes that reflect a family's ability to pay, a family's ability to pay is a reflection of their income, but also of their wealth holdings. A broader kind of tax, would produce more tax revenue, which we desperately need. It would be a fairer tax, and help reduce the increasing level of inequality in America.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Stand Firm

No president can pursue a war if he doesn’t have the public’s support. Our message to our elected representatives should be: “This is not the time for political calculation. This is the time for political courage. Stand firm against Bush. Get our troops out of Iraq.” If they don’t listen, we vote them out of office, because it’s better to be a defeated Democrat, than a cynical political coward with blood on your hands.

The supplemented budget is a way of supporting the troops and a way for our representatives in the Congress to let the voters know that their listening to them. Congressional leadership know that Bush is going to veto the bill, but sooner or later, he’s going to get the message that you can’t conduct a war without public support.

There has been 3,316 Americans killed and more than 3,584 coalition deaths. The BBC reported that their government's own scientists estimated that 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the American and British led invasion in March 2003. The UK's Department for International Development concluded that the study's methods were likely to result in an "underestimation of mortality".

We were misled into invading Iraq, and we’ve made a mess of things.  Bush continues to look for an elusive “victory”, which hasn't even been articulated.

The American voters have gotten it and last November, Democrats were given a two-year contract in the House of Representatives.  Congressional Democrats know they have an obligation to fulfill the reason voters put them in charge. 

Bush asked for $103 billion for expenses related to fighting the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. He not only got the funding, but also a series of deadlines for withdrawing our troops from Iraq. The Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act provided an additional $21 billion in spending, much of it unrelated to war. Democrats are telling Bush, his supporters in Congress and the voters that: “We’re going to use every means possible to let you know that those troops are coming home.”

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Throw the bums out!

Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca endorsed Bush in 2000. In his book, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” Iacocca writes:

“Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged…. Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them — or at least some of us did. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy.”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Defend Critical Thinking

In defense of critical thinking, I published the following, on February 03, 2005.

Hamilton College found it necessary to cancel a panel discussion with a professor who compared 9/11 victims to Nazis. School officials said they had received multiple death threats against college officials and guest speaker Ward Churchill. The college president was quoted as saying: "credible threats of violence have been directed at the college and members of the panel... these threats have been turned over to the police."

This is a major violation of civil rights under the First Amendment to our Constitution. Multiple death threats are nothing less than domestic terrorism and reek of fascism.

My intent is not to ratify Mr. Churchill's hurtful remarks about the victims of 9/11; nor his controversial praise for the perpetrators of the attack, but simply to emphasize that he has a constitutional right to make those remarks. More importantly, the college students, faculty and members of the panel have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble and evaluate the validity of Churchill's remarks.

We are told that our goal in Iraq is to bring them freedom. Ironically, our troops are being killed in Iraq trying to provide freedom of speech and assembly, while at home fascist successfully intimidate a college with death threats.

Some question the judgment of college administrators for allowing students to hear Churchill's remarks. At eighteen years of age, they are adults and the purpose of a college education is to learn critical thinking, evaluate information from a variety of sources and come to a reasonable conclusion.

Can students be old enough to die in Iraq, but too immature to reach reasonable conclusions? Have the terrorist been swallowing and then violently regurgitating the pap, Russ Limbaugh has been foisting on the public? Is a constitutional amendment needed to deny college professors and radio propagandist freedom of speech? The sword of censorship cuts both ways.

In his Feb. 7th. column in a daily paper Bill O' Reilly commented extensively about the Hamilton College situation, but neglected to mention the death threats. Instead, he used the term "major angst" as the reason Churchill's appearance was canceled. So much for fair and balanced news reporting from Fox New.

Go to defendcriticalthinking.org for an update on Ward Churchill's current situation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Obligation to Speak the Truth

This entry was originally posted on September 15, 2004.

In a hospital in Vietnam two young Marines; an officer and a corporal were recuperating from severe wounds. The officer visited the corporal from his point team. The corporal was depressed, but finally blurted out: "Sir, why are we here?" The officer gave him the "party line" response, but soon realized the answer was inadequate.

Many years later, the officer, Anthony Zinni remembers: "I swore that from then on...if something...put the lives of our troops at needless risk...I would speak out, never hesitating to put my career on the line for doing what was right by my men."

Marine General Anthony Zinni established his impeccable credentials during nearly forty years of military service. After retirement, he served as Colin Powell's special envoy to the Middle East, before disagreements over the Iraq war and its probable aftermath caused him to resign. Zinni is quoted by Tom Clancy in "Battle Ready;" a segment entitled "The Obligation to Speak the Truth."

He says: "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption. False rationales presented as justification; a flawed strategy; lack of planning; the unnecessary alienation of our allies; the underestimation of the task; the unnecessary distraction from real threats, and the unbearable strain dumped on our overstretched military, all of these caused me to speak out."

For speaking out Zinni was called a traitor and a turncoat by Pentagon officials. Zinni strongly disagrees with the mentality which says: "As long as guys are dying out there, it is morally reprehensible to criticize the flawed policies and tactics that put them into the predicaments.

In the past two and a half years, a majority of the American public have learned that the traitors and turncoats are not those that have opposed the invasion of Iraq from the very beginning, but the entire Bush regime and those members of Congress that continue to allow are troops to be used as gangsters for capitalism.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Devil Made Me Do It

During Bush's first term, Lt. Gen. Wm. Boykins appearing in uniform before fundamentalist Christians announced: "Bush was not elected by the majority of voters, he was appointed by God."

Bush claimed: "God told me to strike al Qaeda and I struck them and then he instructed me to strike Saddam, which I did..."

Apparently, it isn't considered blasphemy for a Bush to suggest God directed him to use the most powerful military in the history of mankind to deliver death and destruction on the people of Iraq.

My claim of divine intervention is that God instructed me to inform everyone that He never appointed Bush to be president. Furthermore, He has never even spoken to Bush, and vigorously denies responsibility for the invasion of Iraq. God told me that Bush and those other born again Christians that praise Him for their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction should knock it off. Their success was due to their own determination, often enhanced by the love and support of friends or family.

Satan is a tricky little devil and probably disguised his voice to sound like God when speaking with Bush. Bush and Lt. General Boyklins have cynically co-opted the language of religion and blurred the line between church and state. The theft of meaning of truth and faith has been one of the worse things many Republicans have done to the American people and fundamentalist Christians should consider it blasphemy.

Bush is fond of labelling others as evil, when in fact it's he, who continues to listen to the voice of Satan, instead of the American voters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lies and Deceit

Historian and Army Major H.R. Mc Master's "Dereliction of Duty" is a classic work on the Vietnam War. He offers the following quote in a segment entitled "Quicksand of Lies".

"The Constitution assigns to Congress the right to declare war. How can Congress discharge this function if its members and the citizens who elected them are precluded from discussing the merits of the issues that might lead to war?...To say that the momentous issues a nation must face cannot be openly and critically discussed is really tantamount to saying that democratic debate and decisions do not apply to the question of life and death and that, as far as they are concerned, the people have given carte blanche to one man. Not only is this position at odds with the principles of democracy, but it also removes a very important corrective for governmental misjudgment." Han Morganthau, April 1965

Again, we find our country trapped again in a quicksand of lies. Hopefully, an examination of the role our president played in creating the predicament will serve the purpose of avoiding future "governmental misjudgements". Bush and his cabinet repeatedly claimed Saddam's weapons of mass destruction posed "a serious and mounting threat to our nation" with consequences that would be "grave and tragic" if we failed to act. We were repeatedly told that the Iraqi regime possessed "vast arsenals of deadly biological and chemical weapons". "We cannot wait for final proof, the smoking gun." "It could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

As in Vietnam, the invasion of Iraq was not governmental misjudgment, but White House lies and deceit. Will we never learn to be highly skeptical of our military industrial complex?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Messianic Nationalism

Bush said; God instructed him to strike Saddam. He speaks of democracy to justify the invasion of Iraq at a time when all other justifications have been discredited.

Michael Parenti's "Superpatriotism" warns: "Messianic nationalism is the path down which a nation can lose its soul. If doing whatever we judge fit to maintain our security necessitates wreaking death and destruction on other nations; this can have terrible repercussions for our own country." Perhaps declining enlistments in the military is an indication that we have begun to lose our soul and our military superiority.

In 1966, Sen. William Fulbright's "The Arrogance of Power" points out: "We are not God's chosen savior of mankind but only one of mankind's more successful and fortunate branches, endowed by our Creator with about the same capacity for good and evil, no more or less, than the rest of humanity."

Throughout history a number of nations have thought themselves as the chosen people and convinced themselves that they alone are best qualified to lead the world. Not unlike the Bush regime, which after a few false starts now claims democracy alone will ensure peace to the Middle East.

In 2003, columnist, Jon Carroll pointed out: "We are not the only democracy in the world; we are not the only country that exhibits courage in the face of adversity. We lie and cheat and steal and murder. Any assumption that God conferred on us a special blessing is not backed up by the facts. We fail to sign international treaties, and we reserve the right to violate such treaties whenever we feel like it. Is that because God speaks to our leaders as he speaks to no others?"

An international survey reveals people of other nations view us as arrogant and aggressive. Large majorities in other countries are distrustful of our leadership and see us as bent on controlling global oil supplies by military domination.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Not in our Name

The Bush regime offers lofty ideals promoting democracy for Iraq, but nearly every member of the "coalition of the willing" joined the invasion of Iraq against the will of its own people. Not only has Bush continued to deceive the American people, but has sought to undermine democracy in other nations as well.

In 1960 a report of the House Committee on Government Operations declared: "Secrecy the first refuge of incompetents must be at bare minimum in a democratic society, for a fully informed public is the basis of self-government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than the people."

The Movement for Active Democracy in Iceland found it necessary to place a full page ad in the New York Times. It was titled: "The Invasion of Iraq-not in our name."

"We the people of Iceland, protest in the strongest possible terms against the Icelandic authorities support for the invasion of Iraq by the United States...The decision to support the invasion was made unilaterally by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Iceland, without prior discussion by Iceland's Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs. This is mandatory under Icelandic law, which says that all major foreign policy issues shall be discussed by the committee. This decision has not been debated, much less approved, either by the parliament or by the Government of Iceland."

"All opinion polls have shown that the vast majority of Icelanders oppose the Icelandic ministers' support for the invasion of Iraq ( 84% in the latest national poll)."
"We apologize to the Iraqi people for the Icelandic ministers' support for the invasion of Iraq."
" We demand that Iceland be immediately removed from the list of invaders in "the coalition of the willing".
" Iceland has enjoyed friendly relations with the United States for a long time. That relationship has been based on mutual trust and frankness."
" We therefore consider it our duty to make these views known- to the United States of America as well as other nations."

A poll showed 80% of Italians wanted their troops out of Iraq. Unfortunately, when money talks democracy walks.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Systematically Misrepresented

When asked what form of government the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had decided upon? Benjamin Franklin replied: "A Republic if you can sustain it."

Government of the people, by the people and for the people has been replaced by an aristocratic form of government. This occurred because many Americans are fearful, apathetic, inattentive, confused, misinformed, and susceptible to being manipulated.

Our electoral process has been dismantled by special interest lobbyist. These lobbyist have no decency, and their main purpose is to benefit their wealthy clients, without regard for the common good. Self-serving wealthy aristocrates and multi-national conglomerates control the the Pentagon, White House, Congress and major media.

In 2004, the nonpartisan Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that the Bush administration had "systematically misrepresented" the threat from Iraq's weapons program and presented an imaginary scenario that had no basis in actual intelligence reports.

Bush and major media fabricated another frightening claim, that Saddam was working closely with al Qaeda terrorists. During a closed session with a House committee, White House officials themselves were asked several times whether they had any proof that the Iraqi government was collaborating with Islamic terrorist organizations. They unequivocally stated that no such link could be found.

Even today, a majority of Americans, especially those that got their news from the Fox network still believed; world opinion favored the invasion of Iraq, that weapons of mass destruction had been found, and that Iraq was linked to al Qaeda.

We are told that during times of crisis we must trust the president. Democracy is not about trust; it's about distrust, accountability, public exposure and responsible government. We must enlist our fellow Americans to trust their leaders less and themselves more.

Michael Parent's "Superpatriotism" points out: "Once fear takes hold, evidence becomes largely irrelevant."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Cronyism

The Bush regime has quietly and methodically placed reliable partisans in positions of influence throughout the Justice Department and in U.S. Attorneys’ offices throughout the country. Bush’s Justice Department isn’t an institution to fairly protect all citizens. To them it's nothing more than a partisan resource to influence the outcome of elections.

Bush and many congressional Republicans won’t abide by the limits of decency in their campaign to hold on to power. They don’t hesitate to abuse the law, ignore experts or defy public opinion in pursuit of their right-wing, fascist agenda.

Joseph Rich has been a civil rights attorney, with the Justice Department for 35 years. He served under presidents of both parties, and describes the “destructive pattern of partisan political actions” within the Bush administration as follows:

“In a five year period the Department brought NO voting cases and only one employment pattern or practice case on behalf of African-Americans. And NO voting cases on behalf of Native Americans. At the same time, there were several reverse discrimination employment cases brought and the first ever case on behalf of white voters alleging discrimination by African-American Democratic Party operatives in Mississippi.”

According to Mr. Rich, the credibility of our chief law-enforcement agency has been undermined by party-driven prosecutions, abandonment of voting-rights enforcement, and the replacement of competent career attorneys with allies of Karl Rove.

In key swing states such as Florida, New Mexico and Iowa, top prosecutors were replaced with Republican Party loyalists. At least two of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys were investigating claims of Republican corruption and one was fired for refusing to indict Democrats before the 2006 election.

Our tax dollars should be working in the public interest, not paying political operatives to improve the prospects of the Republican Party and sabotage the rule of the law.

For the Bush regime, partisan politics comes first and justice for the American people come last.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Ways and Means

In America, there are still huge disparities in the quality of schooling and performance, because of unequal resources going to education. If you have a community, with a large concentrations of poor families, the average school achievement level is usually much lower than in societies, where you have a more homogenous middle class population. Schooling suffers in America and our labor force is less well educated on average than in a country like the Netherlands, Germany and France. The high level of inequality in America results in less human capital being developed, which will ultimately affect economic performance.

Our country has been going backwards for the past 7 years, and many of our finest young people are being chewed up by the economic conscription occurring in Iraq.

The reason Rep. Charlie Rangel is optimistic and believes that this is going to change is because he’s the chairman of the very powerful Ways and Means Committee. He has gotten together with Republicans on that committee, as well as Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and asked them: “It seems to me that we’re losing the fabric of America. If our young people are not able to get an education, if they can't afford to go to college, if high-tech is going to take over, if people are going to lose work, if towns are going to close, how can we think that we can maintain our superiority in the private sector?”

It’s important to recognize that the fiduciary responsibility of the private sector is not to the flag, nor to the country, but to the shareholders. Nevertheless, the private sector must begin to participate in making this a stronger country and historically education has been the great equalizer in this transformation.

Furthermore, we have gone backwards with fast track authority because Congress has relinquish much of it’s power to the executive branch of government. Most people don't know that constitutionally Congress has responsibility for trade policy, which is clearly designated in Article I, section 8 of our Constitution.

Help is on the way, because Rep. Rangel and Senator Carl Levin have unveiled a new trade agenda, whereby Congress will begin to reclaim some of it’s constitutional authority.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Most Productive

The Bush regime has conducted a war on our middle class. Wages are stagnant and quality jobs are disappearing in this country faster than one can imagine.

New Year's celebration of 2000, was the turning point for the typical American family. At that time, the average family income was $54,000. Real wages stagnated that year, and we have seen incomes declined by about $1,600.

Working women are now earning 42 percent of family income, but two income families are struggling. On the other hand, since 2000, half of the gains in the economy have gone into corporate profits and the top tier wage earners. It's the middle class Americans who are no longer participating in the economic gains.

Since World War II, the average American working family could count on seeing its income rise along with the economy. The U.S. economy is still the more productive than Japan, the U.K., Canada and Europe. More working-age Americans are employed and work longer hours than in any other developed country, but it’s not paying off for them.

Our tax system has helped to stimulate the rise of inequality in this country.
Social policy in Europe, Canada and Japan does a lot more to reduce economic disparities created by the marketplace than we do in this country.

The Center for Economic Policy and Research reports: “The United States really stands alone in having just an incredibly dysfunctional health care system. We pay on average more than twice as much per person as people in other wealthy countries.” This is important to those with health care, because that is money they don't get in their paychecks.

The Economic Policy and Research report focused on the number of hours that working men and women in this country are putting in, as compared to most of their European counterparts. The American worker today is working nearly a month longer, despite basically stagnant wages, than they did 30 years ago. Nevertheless, corporate leadership insists on talking about making the American worker more productive.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Threat of Democracy

At the Arab Summit in Riyad, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said: "In our beloved Iraq, the bloods among brothers are shed in the shadow of the illegitimate foreign occupation and the repulsive sectarianism threatens civil war."

The Saudis know the present situation could lead to a more intense civil war, and possibly a regional war. Nevertheless, they wants our troops to leave Iraq. The king and others are playing to the domestic and regional galleries, which makes it more difficult for America to retain both domestic and international support. King Abdullah's comments reflect the intense anger towards the United States in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia, like many of America's traditional Arab allies, feel that they've been completely sold out and left in the lurch by the invasion. Our friends in the region are sitting back, watching America bring a system of government called democracy, which has deliver power into the hands Iran, who they see as the greatest threat to the region.

The invasion of Iraq has emboldened their enemy Iran. They complained about it before the invasion and have been complaining ever since. Consequently, Saudi Arabia’s support for the Sunnis in Anbar province has grown. Presently, their support is covert, but it's becoming more obvious.

Men in Iraq's western Anbar province are manning checkpoints, with the supported of our military. These men are drawn from tribes under an umbrella network of the Anbar Salvation Council, their loyalty remaining with their tribal sheiks, who want to reestablish a stranglehold on their traditional turf. This has broader ramifications than just Iraq's western Anbar province, because it represents the direction our traditional Arab allies like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt favor. They want Sunni Iraqi Arabs to be re-empowered and the establishment of a government in Baghdad, that is much closer to Amman or Riyadh than Tehran.

The tribes and the Baathists still remain in control of Anbar province and that’s the way Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt want it to continue, because a Shiite dominated Iraq is a threat to their rule.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reading Impediment

As the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Charlie Rangel stands in the way of Bush’s foreign policy agenda. Rangel points out that the American people have spoken and are not satisfied with the way Bush has waged a war, which has lasted longer than World War II. 

Members of the House and Senate are trying to determine the best way to get out of Iraq, while protecting the troops during a period of transition. However, Bush insists that he doesn’t care what the Congress wants to do, because as the commander in chief, he has a constitutional responsibility to conduct this war any way he wants. 

Rangel said that the military is going to get all of the money that it needs for its safety. Congress has the power to support or not support the war, because when the American people says they are fed up with it, no president, Republican or Democrat, can survive.  

MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson challenged Rep. Rangel: “You and Senator Levin have unveiled what you call a new trade agenda for the United States. And it includes the following requirement.  Quote: ‘require other countries to adopt and maintain and enforce basic international labor standards in their domestic laws and practices, not merely enforce their own laws.’ In other words, it would impose our standards on other, in almost every case, poorer countries. 

If that hasn’t worked in Iraq, coming in with our notions about how people ought to live and imposing them on another culture, why will it work when it is imposed by your trade bills?” 

Congressman Rangel replied: “Tucker, you know, I really think that you have a reading impediment, but I hope that it’s correctable, because, there is nothing that you have read or can hardly make up that would suggest that we are trying to impose our standards, our very high standards, on developing countries. 

That would be wrong, morally wrong, and, in my opinion, stupid. What it does say is that we are trying to make certain that the basic minimum international standards, which deals with child labor, which deals with the inability of people to organize, which deals with slave labor, the things that any decent people have said that, at the minimum, these things should be protected. We have got cases right now where children are using pesticides and dangerous chemicals, and don’t go to school.”

Poor Tucker Carlson can’t dance or read. :-)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Loopholes

Five and a half years after September 11th, two Democratic Senators have decided to take steps to crack down on American companies doing business with state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran. It’s illegal to do business with terrorist states, but a loophole in the law has allowed companies to do business with states that sponsor terrorism through foreign subsidiaries.

Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown and Byron Dorgan have sponsored legislation targeting companies which do business with Iran through foreign subsidiaries or who reincorporate off shore.

Sen. Dorgan of North Dakota points out: “We have some companies that are very big defense contractors with our federal government who, have foreign subsidiaries with which they're doing business with Iran. I think that's horribly inconsistent in terms of public policy, and we can do something about that, and I think we should.”

Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton even rated a special mention by name in the press release. "Halliburton, one of America's largest contractors, used this loophole to conduct extensive business with Iran, through a subsidiary in Dubai." Halliburton's current CEO recently announced that he’s moving to Dubai, apparently to be closer to some of his clients. Halliburton claims that it will remain a proud American company, incorporated in the United States, and that all of its business has been allowed under U.S. law.

Senator Brown of Ohio insists: “We're not going to let it disappear. This is the kind of issue the public will get behind. This is the kind of issue, while it might be controversial in Washington, D.C., it's not controversial in Canton, Ohio, or Toledo, Ohio. And nor is it controversial anywhere else in the heartland.”

Ten states have passed or are considering passing bills, to order asset managers of state money to divest their holdings of companies doing business with terrorist states. The Brown-Dorgan legislation would not outlaw companies from reincorporating offshore, but it would outlaw giving such companies government contracts.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

“Enough”

During a photo-op at Walter Reed, Bush said: “The problems at Walter Reed were caused by bureaucratic and administrative failures. The system failed you and it failed our troops. And we're going fix it.”

When asked to respond to Bush’s remarks, former Democratic Senator Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam said: “It's really unbelievable for the commander in chief five years into this war, after he said "Major combat over," "Mission accomplished," "Bring 'em on," and his own failure and the failure of his administration to plan for casualties in this war that have now amounted to more than 3,200 dead, 30,000 wounded, and continuing the loss of our young people at 80 a month, and a thousand casualties a month, it's a little bit late to go to Walter Reed and say, well, it's just the bureaucrats' fault.”

Furthermore, Cleland who ran the Veterans Administration under Jimmy Carter warned that Bush is threatening to veto legislation that would add $20 million to Walter Reed and take the hospital off the list of bases to be closed. Bush plans to veto legislation for a billion dollars extra for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counseling, treatment for traumatic brain injury, and $2 billion for the Veterans Administration.

Cleland insists: “The way to really rectify the situation at Walter Reed is to bring the troops home and make Walter Reed a center of excellence for wound care. That's the way to really take care of the troops.”

During his visit to Walter Reed, Bush stated: “We expect there to be no strings on our commanders, and that we expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people's money.”

Cleland reply was, that when Clinton was president, there were Republicans who were calling for a timeline for withdrawal from Somalia, from Haiti, from the Balkans, but now Republicans are saying: “We don't want a timeline.”

Cleland feels that Congress declares war and the Congress can undeclare it. This Congress is disposed to follow the American people and say "enough", while signing legislation, that gives more money to Walter Reed and the Veterans Administration.